Some of you may think that I am obsessed with Monet, and you would be right. Clues I have found in his paintings have sent me on adventures to sites in France, Italy and even Japan. Currently I am reading a book on Monet’s relationship with his first wife, Camile Doncieux, Mary Mathews Gedo’s, “Monet and his Muse”.

While spending time looking at Monet’s two early monumental paintings “Le Dejeuner sure l’Herbe” and “Woman in the Garden” I was struck by the dresses the women were wearing. We know that Camille posed for all of the women. Is this, then, her wardrobe? Or did Monet, as some have suggested,  take these dresses from contemporary fashion magazines that Camille, as a seamstress, could have introduced to him.

Claude Monet, "Le Dejeuner sure l'Herbe"

Claude Monet, “Le Dejeuner sure l’Herbe”

Claude Monet, "Women in the Garden"

Claude Monet, “Women in the Garden”

Fashion Plate Showing Clothes Designed by Madame Breant Castel, from La Mode Illustree, 1864

Fashion Plate Showing Clothes Designed by Madame Breant Castel, from La Mode Illustree, 1864

The dresses in the two paintings, in fact, appear to be the same dresses. Let’s do a quick match-up between the dresses in “Women in the Garden” and “Le Dejeuner sur l’Herbe”.

The Stripped Dress


 

 

The Dress with Polkadots


 

Dress with Black Trim


 

 

 

 

Yellow Dress Front and Back


The fact that Monet was developing his ideas around painting en plein-air, where everything was dependent upon being out of doors and reflecting the light and atmosphere of the moment, it seems unlikely to me that he would then make up the clothes that his model was wearing. I am more inclined to think that these are Camille’s clothes, perhaps made by her own hand and influenced by the fashion plates of the day.

 

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